European citizenship: what it is and which not-for-profit organisations are active in this field

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For years, the issue of European citizenship has been discussed, among the Community institutions, as well as, within the homes of citizens of the European Union (EU). Even more, the debate is getting stronger due to the approaching of the Brexit (British Exit) hypothesis in the international context.

As a result of disputes between the Westminster parliament, British citizens and EU bodies, there is certainly greater attention from everyone, young and old, to the rights of the European citizen.

Let’s see together what are the rights of the European citizens and which are the not-for-profit organisations that promote them in Italy and in the other countries of the European Union.

The rights of the European citizen: what they are and where to consult them

Being an EU citizen has several advantages, including the acquisition of important rights. These rights are established within the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), specifically in Article 18, and in Chapter V of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

In addition to these documents, the European Union regularly issues, through the Commission, a report on citizenship of the European Union. The goal is to raise the awareness of both citizens and national administrations to this issue.

As regards the rights that European citizens can exercise, they concern the following topics:

To find out more about the initiatives regarding European citizenship and actively participate in the formulation of European policies, you can contact not-for-profit organisations working in this field. Let’s find out which one are the most active in the national territory and in other EU countries.

Non-profit organisations for European citizenship: national and European panorama

The Italian panorama of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) active in the field of European citizenship is varied and is constantly growing. One example is BETA-Italia, born in 2016 as the Italian section of the Bringing Europeans Together Association. For three years, the not-for-profit organisation has been engaged not only in spreading the knowledge of the rights and duties of Union citizens, but also in informing people of all ages about the functioning of the EU. Among the BETA’s successful projects, there is Model European Union, hosted in several Italian cities, which involved numerous young people in classes about the functioning of European institutions.

Active since 1978, Cittadinanzattiva is a not-for-profit organisation focuses on the protection of human rights, but not only, also in the care of the common good and information in the field of support for individuals in conditions of weakness. The action of the NGO, in the European context, is aimed at providing young people and adults of all ages with new opportunities and always new information and tools on community-level initiatives. Thus, Cittadinanzattiva plays a fundamental role in the national and international network of not-for-profit organisations.

At national and, more generally, European level, ALDA- The European Association for Local Democracy has been operating in the field of national and European citizenship for twenty years, playing a fundamental role in the cooperation between different actors of civil society. The activities on which the action of the NGO focuses concern active citizenship, at national and European level, local democracy and human rights, with projects and initiatives that start from the not-for-profit itself or from local stakeholders.

Based in Brussels and with twenty-eight years of experience, ECAS (European Citizen Action Service) is a not-for-profit organisation focused on European citizenship. The NGO actively works in the promotion and protection of citizens’ rights and participatory democracy at Community level. It is also involved in the field of digital democracy and in the fight against online disinformation. Given the high importance of these topics, there are numerous initiatives and research in this regard.

The activity of e-Medine

e-Medine is a not-for-profit organisation, active in Italy and in Europe, that promotes European citizenship and cultural convergence of Mediterranean countries in a single motherland: Europe. It aims to raise awareness on the importance of a European identity and on the integration in all its aspects, social, economic and cultural, both among citizens and between social actors, through awareness campaigns, round tables and the dissemination of best practices.                                                    

More in details, the objectives of e-Medine are:

Among the main objectives pursued by e-Medine, it is worth emphasizing both the development and implementation of innovative, formal and non-formal training programs, and the organisation of round tables, meetings and events to encourage public discussion and strengthen social engagement.

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